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Sleep Tips for Baby During Travel

updated, December 2, 2023 – Baby’s sleep habits and routines are often thrown out the window during travel but they don’t have to be! Sleep Tips for Baby During Travel can help your newborn, infant and you sleep soundly while visiting family or taking a vacation. Safe sleep, preparation and keeping your baby’s schedule consistent will make your trip easy on the whole family.

mom and dad in restaurant smiling while mom holds baby. Staying on baby's time is one of the Sleep Tips for Baby During Travel

Practice at home

Many times babies are not used to sleeping anywhere except the crib, so you can put baby in a travel bed or pack-n-play for naptime at home in the weeks leading up to the trip. By doing this, the novelty of being in a new sleep environment will wear off. You’re also controlling the sleep situation, ensuring that your baby is in a safe sleep environment; alone on a firm flat mattress and staying flat on their back.

Keep sleep routine as close to home as possible to help baby feel safe and secure.

  • Dress your baby in the familiar, cozy clothes they’re accustomed to.
  • If renting a full-sized travel crib from a hotel, bring bedsheets from your baby’s crib at home to recreate familiar sleep environment.
  • Sing the same bedtime songs you sing at home and read favorite books.

Once at the destination, do not rely on carseats for safe sleep.While it is tempting to let a sleeping baby spend the night by in carseat or stroller, the only safe sleep spot for newborns and infants up to age 1 is alone, on a firm flat mattress and laying flat on their back. Sleeping alone means the area should also be free of toys and blankets.

Try to stay on baby’s time.

If possible, try to keep naptimes and bedtimes as close to the same schedule as at home.

When traveling across time zones, gradually adjust baby’s bedtime in the days leading up to the trip. This means putting your baby to sleep 10-15 minutes earlier every 2 or 3 days for about 2 weeks if you’re traveling to a time zone that is earlier. Do the reverse and keep your infant up a little later by 10-15 minutes in the weeks prior to traveling to a time zone where the time is ahead.

Some parents like to travel at night so baby can sleep and wake up in destination refreshed. This can lead to an exhausting first day of the trip for you. But if you can “tag-team” with your partner by alternating napping and caring for baby during the first day, then traveling at night could be a possibility.

Slow it down.

Don’t expect to have a jam-packed sight seeing schedule. All the new sights, sounds, and experiences are very stimulating and exciting for baby. Baby could get fussy if overstimulated and too exhausted. As OG infant sleep expert Dr. Weissbluth has said, sleep begets sleep. Keeping baby awake longer than his/her bodies need may work for one night or one nap, but fighting against baby’s natural rhythms leads to meltdown.

Sleep Tips for Baby During Travel – Stay Strong When Well Meaning -or not well meaning- Folks Offer Unhelpful Advice!

Whether you’re a parent or not, visiting family around the holidays can mean hearing lots of unsolicited opinions. Stay strong when these opinions aren’t helpful or safe! Block it out if you’re nursing and someone snarkily says, “She’s breastfeeding again?!” And ignore those who say “All my kids slept on their stomachs and they’re fine!”